Plenty of…skepticism on the part of chairperson John Lloyd during my comment/question at Thursday night’s RISJ/British Council presentation of James Painter’s “Poles Apart”.
I intervened after Steve Jones of BBC science impartiality and accuracy report “fame” (or not), who’s still (and still angrily) repeating the fantasy allegation of the BBC being too keen on balance and thus providing too much space to skeptics. To that, I retorted that just a few days ago a WWF representative was given heavenly time during the BBC Radio4 Today programme to talk about climate change
As everybody can see there was (as usual) not a hint of any even remotely critical question on the part of the BBC journalist/interviewer (something that happens regularly instead when interviews are not with AGWers but with politicians or even with scientists in a different discipline).
And that’s where the chairperson’s face started making quite telling movements….well, I can now present to John Lloyd (whom I met at a debate in Oxford in 2009 on Italian politics, where I was in the panel) the most curious piece of evidence yet of BBC’s institutional bias in favor of AGW proponents and away from skepticism.
And yes, this evidence makes a mockery of Steve Jones’ allegations too. Introducing Spiked Online and Patrick West’s experience with various language courses in Italian, and in particular the words dedicated to the BBC (my emphasis):
I’m currently on the second volume of the BBC’s Active Talk Italian Course. The two books and CD companions contain some bizarre diversions, Talk Italian 2 (2007) especially so. This volume is rich fare for those convinced that the BBC is governed by a liberal-left cabal, aging hippies and proselytising environmentalists.
Much of Talk Italian 2 is concerned with asking for directions in the rustic campagna of Tuscany and Umbria, where one would expect BBC bigwigs and well-to-do liberal-left champions of the corporation to take their vacations. A chapter is devoted to renting and buying luxury property (In zona panoramica e comoda… quattro camere, due bagni, cantine di 50mq, garage e giardino… Prezzo: €840,000). This no doubt appeals to Italy-loving Islingtonians who think holidaying in Spain is for the ghastly hoi polloi and that the south of France is a repository for the vulgar bourgeoisie.
The section in Talk Italian 2 on telling the time casually envisages a scenario of ‘Jorge’ and ‘Alessandro’ co-ordinating a meeting at a climate-change conference: Il cambiamento climatico: rischio per la biodiversità marina. The reader is invited to insert the Italian for ‘we start’ in the following ominous sentence ‘_____ alle dieci e un quarto con il discorso del Ministro sul cambiamento climatico’ (answer: Cominciamo) (1). Whatever happened to time-keeping dialogues simply based on railway enquiries?
On visiting the doctor, a further chapter asks you how to recognise notices for ‘alternative solutions’: medicina olistica, agopuntura, omeopatia, meditazione. Would you like to mettere in armonia le dimensioni fisiche, emotive, spirituali e sociali della persona? When ‘Simona’ complains of having l’influenza and asks for some painkillers, you, her hypothetical friend, are inveigled to suggest a superior alternative: Io ho un prodotto omeopatico molto efficace (2). Simona ought to reply Che stronzata! (3)
Some translation to help:
(1) “We start at quarter past ten with a speech by the Secretary of State for Climate Change”
(2) “I’ve got a very effective homeopathic medicine”
(3) “What a load of bull!”
And as if demonstrating the BBC Italian language courses’ focus on climate change undermines their quality 😎 , Patrick West’s article title is not what an Italian would write. “Questo corso è molto prevenuto” meaning “This course is very biased” would sound much better as “Questo corso è pieno di pregiudizi“.
guest post by Rupert Wyndham -about the BBC World Service “On the Fracking Frontline“:
Amongst an infinity of others, this programme is just one more example of a policy of systemic bias within the BBC. It might be tempting to add ‘in relation to so-called environmental reportage’. Upon reflection, of course, that is not true. BBC partiality and prejudice is evident across the entire spectrum of its journalistic output. In fact, the notion that BBC ‘journalists’ should report in such a way as to avoid any suggestion of insinuating personal opinion is now as moribund as the Corporation’s founding father himself or, indeed, as the Corporation’s own notional Editorial Standards.
It is quite evident that news reporting/commentary is no longer a matter of providing dispassionate and, as far as possible, carefully verified, accounts of matters of current concern. Rather, BBC news coverage is effectively little different from any other form of ‘reality television’. ‘Journalists’, laughably so termed, are no longer content to provide principally facts for listeners/viewers to absorb and interpret for themselves. On the contrary, instead they consider it encumbent upon themselves to pontificate. They do so, moreover, often with an arrogant disregard for the basic courtesies of civilised exchange. Indeed, impertinent interruption of interviewees now constitutes a mark of supposed independent thought and a tough interrogatory style. Presentational techniques display a uniformity, which denote the hallmarks of institutional in-house training. With few exceptions – and they, by and large, from an older generation – exaggerated gesticulation and extravagant body language are deployed to convey an aura of authority for output that, in truth, is merely glib. Radio has its own counterpart techniques for achieving the same objectives – frequently repeated interruption being especially favoured. The adoption of an endemic ‘corporate speak’ reinforces the perception of shallowness, not to mention of professional indolence. Of course, we now know that much of this froth amounts to little more than rehashes of press releases issued by leftist pressure groups and vested interests – such as organs of pseudo-environmentalism, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Worldwide Fund for Nature, The National Trust, by way of example.
This programme was no exception. Thus, with excruciating inevitability, we had trotted out for the millionth time the fashionable mot juste of the moment, ‘iconic’, in this case to describe Woodstock. What, pray, is ‘iconic’ about Woodstock? How, might one now go on to ask, did the BBC ever survive the preceding eight or nine decades with only rare and selective recourse to what has now been rendered a facile and hackneyed choice of adjective?
But, though irritating, this type of derivative, copycat reporting is but a symptom of a far deeper and more insidious underlying malaise marked, in particular, by a wilful rejection of objectivity. Repudiation in favour of what? Why, to be sure, in favour of ’emotional truth’, to borrow the specious and fatuous terminology offered by editors of The Times Comprehensive World Atlas. In short, mere assertion is no longer to be challenged. Demonstrable evidence of a contra-indicative character is to be simply ignored or wilfully misrepresented. Data are to be cynically manipulated within computers programmed to deliver predetermined outcomes. Such outcomes are to be so ordered that any and all observable phenomena in the real world are to be construed as confirmation of a contrived and perverted orthodoxy. Indeed, computer modelling is always to trump actual observation. And it is to this garbage that the BBC lends the weight of its authority – paid for, of course, by the license fee payer. Truth is to be the preserve of a consensus.
So it is with this programme. So-called ‘climate change’ attributable to CO2, human generated in particular, was not to be treated as an unproven assertion but as established fact, to be marshalled to inform programme content with as much certainty as blood circulation informs medical diagnosis. That scientific practitioners in thousands, many of immense achievement and distinction, regard climate change science as a fraudulent contrivance is a fact simply to be ignored, as is the associated chicanery attendant upon it.
Underlying institutional prejudice was carefully re-inforced by repeated references to ‘carbon’, notwithstanding its questionable contextual relevance. The shameless appeal to ’emotional truth’ was also carefully structured in such a way as to create a putative link between emissions of CO2 (in the programme maker’s eyes, a pollutant) with other wholly unrelated – and, for a change, possibly even genuine instances of pollution as, for example, in China and Hungary. It is noteable that One Planet made (and, one suspects, makes) little of massive pollution created in China, but brought about solely as a consequence of shrill Western pseudo-environmentalist demand of battery operated vehicles. But then, of course, the welfare of third world citizens and their living environments are to be regarded as expendable on the altar of AGW religiosity.
Like most BBC science/eco coverage, this programme was/is meretricious and hypocritical.
BBC News’s “Science & Environment” pages have seldom been a paradigm of in-depth, unbiased, trustworthy coverage. Yet, they’re now sinking to new, sensationalistic lows. And it’s not just climate change.
Latest offerings: Richard Black on absurdist claims that million-year-long processes are changing right now; Black again telling the world that coal is now good (and reporting the energy policy ideas of a Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology); Mark Kinver crying that penguins are “suffering” (whilst whales and seals are thriving, as reported well hidden in the same article); Pallab Ghosh fantasizing about Soviets getting the Moon before the Americans (forgetting that the key technological factor was the development by the US of combustion chambers able to withstand enormous pressures, so the Saturn-V could do with 5 engines on the first stage instead of 30).
Expect soon articles on how people feel about string theory, and the dangers to the fabric of the Universe caused by pesky European particle accelerators (oh…nevermind)
For unfathomable (ahr ahr!) reasons, much is made of the association between two Fellows of the Royal Society and the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). One is left to wonder if the remaining 41 Fellows “who called for” the new Royal Society pronouncement, are just stooges of the GWPF. Who knows, perhaps Pallab Ghosh believes the whole Society including Lord Rees are zombies manipulated by Lord Lawson?
Actually, it’s not just a matter of opinion. Keep in mind that the article is titled “Royal Society launches new climate change guide“. Therefore one would expect it to be dedicated to the Royal Society and its stance on climate change. Keep also in mind that journalists are painfully aware of the importance of dedicating the right number of words to the right topic.
Now, there are 419 words in Mr Ghosh’s piece. Of those, 83 are dedicated to Bob Ward’s likely slanderous innuendos against the GWPF, a topic that is removed as far as it gets from the Royal Society and its stance on climate change:
“…Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation […] campaigns against climate researchers and promotes inaccurate and misleading information about climate change“
That’s 83/419=19.81% of the total. Now add the words in the previous paragraph in the article, just as well irrelevant to what the article was supposed to be about, and you get 125/419=29.83%.
In other words, 30% of Mr Ghosh’s writing has little to do with the Royal Society and its stance on climate change. Can anybody imagine what would happen at the BBC if, say, 30% of any political article were blatantly irrelevant?
Funny to see such a shameful behaviour in their “science” section of all places.
Rejoice all ye faithful! Warmist Extraordinaire, BBC News environmental expert journalist Mr Richard Black has started to grasp all that is wrong with AGW messages such “the planet is burning”, “humanity is in peril”, “climate change is a bigger threat than nuclear war”.
Climate change is projected to become a major driver of biodiversity decline […] but at the moment, the major factor is habitat loss as the human footprint expands. When it comes to fisheries […] the single biggest driver is undoubtedly over-consumption […] And underlying it all is the growth in the human species
[…] if climate impacts are at present largely reversible but the loss of a species self-evidently isn’t, does that make biodiversity loss more important than climate change?
[…] if the fundamental drivers of all the trends are the swelling in the human population and our expanding thirst for raw materials, why aren’t these the things that politicians and environmental groups are shouting about and trying to change?
The blog in question is titled “Does climate cloud the bigger picture?“.
Mr Black goes as far as to admit that
some of the policies being considered as a response to climate change […] could exacerbate other environmental problems
Perhaps he (and some among my twelve readers) will now understand why I simply cannot bear the constant barrage of absurdist climate change claims (shrinking sheep included). AND the BBC’s own fixation with all things global warming.
IMNSHO, anybody that cares about the environment should be wary of overshooting remarks about any particular environmental issue: those will not help solve anything, and likely will make things worse overall.
Having carefully watched the BBC “Science & Environment” news web page for several weeks now, I am inclined to identify the following as their underlying “Climate Change” reporting policy:
- No day shall pass without at least one climate-change-related link somewhere on that page
- Reporting on scientific articles supporting AGW will be strictly confined to a slight change of the original press release with the smallest and most inconsequential of doubt and criticism in the results
- Whatever Prince Charles or any other environmental celebrity has to say will be considered worthy of publication
- No such luck for anything not supporting AGW, however authoritative the source.
- Point 4 will not apply once a quarter or so, in order to demonstrate “balanced reporting”
- No climate change link will be considered too trivial to report
- There will be links to Richard Black’s blog
- There will be no link to the BBC’s own “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” blog. After all, it does make fun of AGW
And so there goes my licence money at work supporting the fight against the destruction of the world by evil SUV drivers…
…or their way of “showing impartiality”?
In any case, the BBC’s “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” is well worth an entry in one’s RSS feeds list.
And the authors there are quite humorous and far, far less the self-conscious, bordering-on-pompous, depressive types like Roger Harrabin and Richard Black.
For a couple of suggestions, start from these:
Now…can “The Blog of Bloom” really be used to demonstrate the impartiality of the BBC in the climate debate? I am afraid it cannot. See, there is no link to it, and there has never been, into the “Science and Environment” section of the BBC News website.